By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
ATLANTA While NFL owners scooted out of town after jamming through a vote on the proposed CBA Thursday night, team decision-makers coaches and GMs were meeting at an airport hotel to discuss what it all means. Owners are still hoping that the players could ratify the CBA and doors would swing open Saturday. If so, theres a lot of information to process and a small amount of time to process it. The landscape, according to one AFC GM will be freaking nuts.Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum told me that the labor seminar being held at the Atlanta Airport Westin is crucial. Weve been preparing for a while and as soon as we have more clarity on what the rules will be we can go forward, Tannenbaum said. Were looking forward to being productive over the next few days depending what the calendar is.The initialcalendar indicates that teams are clear to contact and begin negotiations with their own free agents and draft picks at midnight Friday (or 12:01 a.m. Saturday). Players may also be waived. At 2 p.m. EST Saturday afternoon, undrafted rookies and free agents from other clubs are fair game to contact. Undrafted rookies can be signed as early as Sunday at 2 p.m. On Wednesday, free agency opens. This may have all changed a smidge since players are not anticipated to take a vote by the end of the day Friday. Amid this frenzy, newly created plans like the rookie wage scale must be understood and implemented. This is all subject to the players ratifying the CBA proposal owners ratified Thursday evening. Well have the opportunity to spend time in the labor seminar with the crew and get a jump start on it, said Bills Chief Operating Officer Russ Brandon. We have a pretty good understanding of it. Everybodys in the same boat so well just go to work.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
Big night, Philadelphia. How you gonna treat the man NFL owners pay $35 million to be their meat shield? The first round of the draft is one of the few Roger Goodell appearances the league can’t manage. Released from the protection of John Mara’s coat pocket, Goodell has to hear a voice vote from fans every time he approaches the mic. He can grin, bang nipples and backslap all he wants with the first-rounders and sling that “Welcome to the family!” line of BS. He can hit the stage with the ghosts of Reggie White, Buddy Ryan and Chuck Bednarik. Philly’s too smart to get caught watching the paint dry.
Got into a brief and spirited debate on the topic of Jimmy Garoppolo this morning on our “Boston Sports Tonight” email chain. I opined that perhaps Garoppolo is a bit overrated. Overvalued may have been a better adjective. Here’s why. With a fleet of teams dying for a quarterback they can build around, the Patriots squelched all Jimmy G suitors by declaring him untouchable. We may ultimately find out it was all a ruse and the team winds up getting a boatload of picks in exchange for him but from everything I’ve been told since September that’s not happening. Garoppolo will stay a Patriot and the team will figure out later how to proceed with him once his contract is up in March.
If Garoppolo isn’t franchised and doesn’t sign an extension to back up Tom Brady until Brady either retires (not on the horizon) or is traded (gasp), then why did the team pass on the haul it could have had? The theory most often posited is that Garoppolo is Brady insurance. If Brady gets hurt in 2017 and Jacoby Brissett is the next-man-up, the team is cooked. But that reality has existed throughout Brady’s tenure whether he had Rohan Davey, Matt Gutierrez, Matt Cassel, Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett behind him. It didn’t faze them then. Garoppolo is better than all of them. Potentially. And that’s probably why the Patriots don’t want to make a decision on him before they have to. They look at all these forever .500 teams trying to find a quarterback answer and think, “There, but for the grace of God and the presence of Brady, go I.” Garoppolo isn’t going to be better than Brady. But he fits the suit better than anyone they’ve ever had and they like the fact they found him, developed him and were right about him. Clearly they believe he is a greater asset as a backup with a soon-to-expire contract and a complicated future than the collection of young players they’d be able to draft with whatever picks they got back in a deal. This, of course, runs counter to the way the team has traditionally done business. Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio have found innovative ways to acquire, stockpile and flip picks. The fact the team’s already got its 2017 draft haul of Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy, Dwayne Allen and Mike Gillislee thanks to pick-flipping. Garoppolo could yield the next batch of picks the Patriots could use in the “rent-to-own” model they’ve shrewdly adopted. But Garoppolo is the extreme outlier. And the Brady-Garoppolo-what’ll-they-do dance is fascinating because it highlights the confluence of everything – draft, free agency, cap management, trades, potential vs. proven, old vs. young, icon vs. phenom – at the most important position in sports on the greatest franchise of this era.
Which brings me to this: we’ll have former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis in studio tonight at 9pm on Boston Sports Tonight helping us through the first round of the draft. Looking forward to his insight on why Garoppolo is persona-non-tradeable. Put the over-under on “Tommys” at about 47.
In order to shake things up a bit in our third and final mock draft of the pre-draft season -- you can find our first two here and here -- we went ahead and made a trade for the Patriots.
In a move silimar to the one they pulled off involving Chandler Jones last year, in this mock draft the Patriots dealt Malcolm Butler to the Saints in order to pick up some draft capital. But instead of receiving the No. 32 pick overall in return, Bill Belichick pulled in a haul of picks that provided nearly equal value: No. 42 overall (second round), No. 103 (third round) and No. 196 overall (sixth round).
That deal bumped the total number of Patriots selections from six to nine, and by picking up a second-rounder they gave themselves an opportunity at a top-end talent.
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